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Inflationary Gap


An inflationary gap is an economic concept that represents the difference between the actual real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the GDP of an economy if it were operating at full employment (also known as potential GDP). It occurs when the demand for goods and services exceeds production due to unemployment being below the natural rate. This often leads to inflation as the excess demand increases prices.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Inflationary Gap” is: /ɪnˌfleɪʃəˈneri gæp/

Key Takeaways

Here are the three main takeaways about the Inflationary Gap:

  1. Economic Overheating: An inflationary gap is indicative of an overheated economy. It occurs when the demand for goods and services exceeds production due to high levels of employment.
  2. Inflation: Excess demand often leads to increased inflation. When employment is at or near full capacity, businesses can often increase prices, leading to high levels of inflation, hence the term “inflationary” gap.
  3. Monetary Policy: Economists and policy makers use the inflationary gap to gauge the appropriate monetary policy. If there is a large inflationary gap, central banks may increase interest rates to slow down the economy and curb inflation.


The business/finance term inflationary gap is important because it is a key indicator of the state of an economy. It refers to the difference between the actual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the GDP that would be expected at full employment (also known as potential GDP). When the actual GDP surpasses the potential GDP, it results in an inflationary gap, signifying that the demand for goods and services exceeds the economy’s ability to produce them. This situation often leads to inflation as excess demand drives up prices. Understanding the inflationary gap aids policymakers and economists in making informed decisions about monetary and fiscal policies to manage inflation and stabilize the economy.


An inflationary gap is an economic concept primarily used to illustrate the disparity between the actual GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and the GDP that would be achieved if an economy was running at full employment, often referred to as the potential GDP. This economic tool is critical as it helps economic policy makers and planners to identify whether an economy is operating above its capacity, which usually sets a stage for inflation, or whether it’s running below capacity. This understanding is key in formulating appropriate fiscal and monetary policies geared towards promoting sustainable economic growth and controlling inflation.In practical usage, an inflationary gap underscores the inflationary pressures in an economy, serving as a warning sign of potential economic instability. A positive inflationary gap, where the actual GDP outpaces potential GDP, can lead to inflation as demand outstrips the supply of goods and services. On the other hand, a negative gap, where the potential GDP is higher than the actual GDP, typically signals a recession. Therefore, grasping the concept of an inflationary gap enables governments and central banks to not only respond promptly to potential inflation or recession, but it also allows them to adapt their economic policies and strategies in order to maintain economic equilibrium.


An Inflationary Gap refers to the difference between the current level of real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the anticipated GDP at full employment. When the actual GDP supersedes the potential full-employment GDP, it creates an inflationary gap. This causes inflation due to an oversupply of money and/or an oversupply of demand. Here are three real-world examples:1. Post-World War II USA: After World War II, America experienced a significant economic boom due to explosives in industries like automotive and household goods. This led to an inflationary gap as demand exceeded the supply of jobs and products, leading to a rise in inflation.2. The Dotcom Bubble: In the late 90s, there was a spike in the valuation of tech companies, leading to high levels of investments and speculation. However, after the bubble burst, it became clear the actual economic output was lower than anticipated, leaving an inflationary gap.3. Zimbabwe Hyperinflation: In the late 2000s, Zimbabwe experienced severe hyperinflation. The government was struggling after a disastrous land reform program and started printing more money to meet its debts. As a result, demand exceeded supply, creating a large inflationary gap.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is an Inflationary Gap?

An inflationary gap is an economic circumstance where the demand for goods and services exceeds production due to higher levels of employment. It shows the difference between the actual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the GDP of an economy if all resources were fully employed.

Why is an Inflationary Gap important in the financial world?

Inflationary gaps are critical in finance because they indicate that the economy is in a state of overheating, leading to increased inflation. Economists and policymakers use this information to make informed decisions and implement necessary policies.

What causes an Inflationary Gap?

An inflationary gap occurs when the level of demand is greater than the level of supply in an economy. It is often driven by factors such as increased consumer spending, government spending, or investment by businesses.

Can an Inflationary Gap be harmful?

While an inflationary gap might suggest a booming economy, it can lead to undesirable consequences such as inflation. If left unaddressed, it can result in hyperinflation which can damage economic stability by eroding purchasing power and creating uncertainty.

How can an Inflationary Gap be managed or closed?

An inflationary gap can be managed by implementing contractionary fiscal or monetary policies. This may include increasing interest rates, reducing government spending, or increasing taxes to reduce the level of demand in the economy.

How is an Inflationary Gap measured?

An inflationary gap is typically measured by comparing the actual GDP to the potential GDP (full-employment GDP). The difference between these values constitutes the inflationary gap.

Can an Inflationary Gap exist in all types of economies?

Inflationary gaps are most common in rapidly growing economies where the demand for goods and services outstrips supply. However, they can occur in any economy experiencing a surge in demand that supply cannot keep pace with.

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